Miami and Orlando tend to capture all the food-loving tourist attention, but people are sorely missing out if they don’t venture north of the Magic Kingdom. From home-cooked Southern fare to Jamaican eats served with love, North Florida has plenty to offer plant-based eaters. Take a socially distant road trip in lieu of the typical tourist destinations and mark these nine spots on your digital map. 

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1. End of the Line, Pensacola, FL
Located in Downtown Pensacola, End of the Line takes the cake as the best vegan spot in the city. Whether you choose to purchase one of the daily rotating specials, Sunday brunch, or a classic from the regular menu, you can’t go wrong. A must-order is the spicy sriracha-infused mac and cheese. It’s oozing with creamy cashew-based cheese sauce and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and crispy tempeh bacon. Complete your meal with at least one item from the café’s daily dessert menu such as a slice of chocolate cake, a wedge of cookies and creme cheesecake, or a turmeric chai cupcake. Grab your sweets then head to Pensacola Beach!

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2. Chizuko, Pensacola, FL
Chizuko is a woman-owned dive bar that serves restaurant-worthy vegan food—it’s a true diamond in the rough. It’s quirky—as every dive bar should be—and the menu reflects its off-center charm. Local favorites include a sweet-meets-salty, double-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich. One half is smeared with peanut butter, raspberry jam, and vegan Nutella, while the other half is fused together with fresh strawberries, bananas, and potato chips. The bar also serves drunk food staples such as vegan sliders and ramen. The business is temporarily closed to move locations, but the owners remain hopeful and have assured their fans Chizuko will rise again. Keep an eye on the Instagram page for updates. 

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3. Sweet Pea Café, Tallahassee, FL
This casual café is a staple for plant-based folks in North Florida. The kitchen sources its produce from local farms, and the cuisine ranges from Mexican to Mediterranean to classic American diner-style sandwiches. Be sure to check the specials board before placing your order—the chef’s creativity really shines here. Recent specials include Southern-style country-fried seitan topped with ‘buttermilk’ gravy and creamy mashed potatoes, cheese-loaded and freshly-baked pizza rolls, and curried tofu and vegetables. The scratch-made baked goods also rotate on the daily, but whether you opt for a Green Tea Raspberry Cream Pie or Boston Cream Cake, you won’t be disappointed. 

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4. The Bark, Tallahassee, FL
Located minutes away from both Florida State University and Florida A&M University, this vegetarian/vegan-friendly daytime eatery has college kids hooked on plants. The eclectic menu focuses heavily on monster sandwiches and deli sides—from a tofu bahn mi to a Sloppy Jose made with barbecued tempeh. If you’re visiting during weekend brunch hours, the Monte Cristo Sammy is a must. You’ll reminisce fondly over this powdered-sugar-topped fried seitan sandwich smeared with vegan cream cheese and strawberry jam. 

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5. Hemplade Vegan Café, Tallahassee, FL
Need to chill out? This laidback café offers CBD oil as a pizza topping. With inventive pairings such as the Purple Haze (purple kale, purple onions, purple cabbage, purple eggplant, vegan cheese, and hemp seeds) and the Dill Weed (dill weed, sweet peppers, basil, plum tomatoes, vegan cheese, hemp seeds, hemp oil, and hemp powder) you can’t get pizza like this anywhere else. Beyond the CBD oil, customers love adding the kitchen’s signature Burnie Mac and Cheese to any of the pizzas. Snag a baked good on your way out—the gluten-free red velvet cake and dulce de leche are standouts among the sweet selection. 

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6. Grenville Kitchen, Jacksonville, FL
In Downtown Jacksonville, Grenville Kitchen has developed a reputation as the city’s go-to for Caribbean and Southern dishes. The Voxtail (veganized oxtail) is served with rice, peas, plantains, and veggie slaw and hooks curious customers every time. The indulgent menu of daily fritters and Chikun n’Waffles is balanced out with an alkaline and raw vegan selection that includes a wholesome Sweet Potato Bowl, Chickpea Vegetable Curry, and Oyster Mushroom Ceviche Salad. Omnivores, comfort food-seekers, and health nuts are all welcome at Grenville. 

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7. Murray Hillbilly, Jacksonville, FL
This fun-loving eatery serves one thing: quality vegan comfort food. Named “Best Vegan Restaurant” by Void Magazine, Folio Weekly, and News 4 Jax, the food here can turn any vegan skeptic into a devout plant-based follower. The menu is divided into Premium and Value—offering deluxe sandwiches for up to $13 to more affordable options that range from $3-$5. If you can swing it, the Git ‘Er Done sandwich is well worth the $12.99. It’s a colossal handhold made with a housemade vegan burger patty, chedda cheeze, barbecued chickun, lettuce, and tomato, all barely held together with a locally baked bun. Value options include slightly more humble but equally indulgent items such as Mac N’ Cheeze and a Buffalo Ranch Jr. sandwich. Note: most of these sandwiches require you to unhinge your jaw … or use a knife and fork. 

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8. Karma Cream, Gainesville, FL
Located near the University of Florida, Karma Cream is within walking distance to campus and provides the perfect sustenance for a study break. The all-star vegan menu is extensive—from savory sandwiches to ice cream sandwiches, baked goods to Instagram-worthy espresso beverages. One never quite knows what they’ll find on any given day, but from the s’mores cake to the Choco Taco, you know it will be delicious. 

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9. Reggae Shack Café, Gainesville, FL
Right next door to Karma Cream, this vegan-friendly and family-run restaurant is known for its Jamaican cuisine. While the kitchen does serve meat, vegans do not lack for options. The vegetarian dishes are also vegan and include a wide range of specialties from Vegan Steak simmered in a sweet Caribbean sauce with vegetables, rice and peas, steamed cabbage, and plantains to Jerk Tofu (be warned, the menu claims this is the spiciest dish of all). Cool off with a veganized smoothie (surprise, they’re made with tofu)! 

Noella Williams is a student at Florida A&M University as well as a writer and journalist living in Tallahassee, FL. You can find her at @noellaeatsplants.

Photo credit: Murray Hillbilly

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